When the going gets weird, the weird get to the cricket.

Friday morning, sitting at the local train station, I felt at home eavesdropping on the skinny kids in wattle gold Socceroos shirts.  Dissecting every moment and every player in Thursday night’s World Cup qualifier win over Kyrgyzstan (it really is the world game when we take immense pride in beating people we have never heard of – who next – Chad; Upper Volta, Kirabati?)

Their cooler bags say they are off to the Test.  Fellow travellers.  I admire their intensity and commitment.  Me at 17, I smile.  On the train they continue with reviews of Socceroo contenders playing in the Bundesliga second division.  And Leyton Orient’s prospects for promotion.  By the time we get to the city, the young and passionate have devolved into the weird and psychopathic.  Me at 19, I frown.

No matter, I board the yellow CAT bus to the WACA in East Perth.  Everyone is beaming.  These are my people.  It feels like a high school reunion.  For the class of 1978.  But only the nerds have come.  This is the reunion where no one will turn you down for a dance.  The few women can’t afford to be choosy.  Equal opportunity desperation.

We all need a place to call home, I generously decide as the bus deposits us at the gates.  We spill out into a stadium that is less than quarter full.  This is how the dodo colony looked 10 years before extinction.

Cricket Australia give the crowd as 14,000.  One thousand are security guards.  One thousand school kids who couldn’t get their parents to give them a sick note for the class excursion.  “Sitting in the sun all day drinking warm milk?  Never did me any harm.”  Note to Cricket Australia re aversion therapy.

Maybe 8,000 real paying customers or freeloader member guests like me.  Who are the other 20% that routinely inflate crowd numbers the world over?  Did they win the ticket in a raffle, but had a dental appointment they just couldn’t get out of?  Maybe vengeful wives of cheating husbands?  That vacant section in the Inverarity Stand is the 20 rows she bought on his corporate credit card when he came home drunk again.  Should give the company auditors something to think about.

Anticipation dissolves into somnolence.  Australia v New Zealand is the Sibling Rivalry Cup for passive aggressives.  There is no atmosphere.  We import all our colour and passion.  The Barmy Army; the manic sky blue Indians; the crazy Sri Lankans all bring their own fun to our stadiums.  Today’s crowd is made up almost entirely of WASP’s – White Anglo Saxon Pisspots.

If things are bad in the crowd, it’s worse out on the ground.  UFC cage fighting with feather pillows.  Ten minutes into the movie and you could already write the script.  Who gets the girl – Davey and Candice – of course.  Who dies – why do they always wear black caps?  And the nerdy guy who comes through unexpectedly – Don Knotts; Bruce Spence; Kramer; Nathan Lyon?

Imagine if the AFL decided the fixture for next season like the ICC – Hawthorn will play Melbourne for the first month.  Every day.  With no rests.

After that Hawthorn will play Gold Coast for the next month.  You never know, these young sides can surprise.  Except Gary Ablett won’t be playing.  Or Charlie Dixon.  Or Rischitelli.  Or Harbrow.  We don’t want any Hawks champions getting hurt do we?

It’s sort of like Cricket Australia meets Monty Python, where the Piranha Brothers threaten not to beat people up if they don’t pay them the so-called protection money.

But don’t worry, we’ll have all the best players from all clubs playing in our new Big Bash football league after that.  All the players’ names will go in a hat so they can play in different coloured uniforms where you won’t be able to recognise them.  Fun, eh? Look we know people are time poor these days, but we are confident that everyone can spare 30 minutes for our new “Single Quarter Footy” concept instead of wasting 3 hours on a full game.

At least that is how the modern game of cricket thinks it will attract new customers.

And if you tell the kids of today that………………………….they woooon’t believe you.





  1. Cricket thinks that and cricket would be right, PB. Prior to the T20 when was the last time there was >50,000 at a domestic cricket match (although, I suspect some of your vengeful wives may have been involved in inflating the crowd numbers at that game. That and Adelaide Oval does count staff in its attendances)? Love the dodo colony line.

  2. Did we watch the same day’s play yesterday?

  3. PB, the final day beckons at the WACA. Any of four results is possible. Do you imagine a person from the ACB would propose a free admission day ? If 8,000 can be marketed as 14, 0000, imagine the crowd figures for day five.


  4. Song lyrics for the last day of the Test:
    “I waken to the sadness of the rain” (Doug Ashdown – Leave Love Enough Alone – great little known Australian song) – showers forecast this afternoon.
    “Take me home country road” (John Denver)
    “Breaking up is hard to do” (Neil Sedaka) – both for the late lamented WACA “pitch”
    “I have wasted time, now time has wasted me” (Paul Kelly – of course) – can we get the last 4 days back?

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